APPLICATION STRATEGY 2022: Arizona Deer, Sheep and Bison
ARIZONA'S 2022 DEER, BIGHORN SHEEP AND BISON APPLICATION OVERVIEW
Note: The online application deadline for Arizona deer, bighorn sheep and bison is June 14, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. ARIZONA time. You can apply online here.
New for 2022
- Trail cameras have been banned for the use of locating and aiding in the take of game year round. Learn more here.
- Hunters will have the option to select an electronic tag in their portal account. A mobile application will provide licenses and hunt permit-tags, viewing of licenses, viewing of drawn hunts or tags, the ability to electronically tag a harvested animal in the field and complete hunter questionnaires. For more information visit azgfd.gov/hunting.
- Applicants are encouraged to keep their credit card payment information current. If your payment is declined at the time of the draw, your application will not be drawn. The Department will provide notice onits website when the deadline to update credit cards is finalized.
- Over-the counter archery deer changes. As of April 1, 2022, all of the OTC deer seasons will now be enforced by harvest limits and hunters will be required to report their deer harvest within 48 hours of taking their deer. Once the harvest limit is reached for a unit and species, that unit will close to further archery deer hunting for the remainder of the season Read more here.
- New 2022 mule deer hunt in units 7/9 with December 9-31 season dates.
- New 2022 mule deer hunt in unit 10 with December 9-31 season dates.
How to apply
To apply, visit www.azgfd.com/hunting/draw and login to your AZGFD portal account. If you have not created a portal you will need to take the necessary steps to do so. Once inside your portal click on “Apply For A Draw.”
Now is the time to check your portal and review your bonus point totals. Last year, AZGFD transitioned into a new system and, as such, many applicants reported login issues as well as issues with their bonus points not matching their personal records. Check your points to ensure that you have the proper number of points. If something seems amiss, call AZGFD at 602-942-3000 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Do not wait to call if there is an issue. Take care of it well in advance of the application deadline.
Applicants must possess a valid Arizona hunting license to apply for a hunting tag. That license must be valid on the last day of the application period (June 14, 2022). Check your AZGFD portal account.
Below you can find important information and an overview of Arizona’s rules/regulations, the draw system, bonus points, tag and license fees and an interactive boundary line map on our State Profile. Once at the State Profile, you can find even more information on applying in Arizona. You can also view the Arizona mule deer, Coues deer, bighorn sheep, and bison profiles to access historical and statistical data to help you find trophy units.
IMPORTANT DATES AND INFORMATION
- The deadline to apply online is June 14, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. MST.
- Payment must be made by VISA or Mastercard for online applications.
- Successful applicants will have tags mailed out by August 5, 2022.
- Applicants must have a combination hunting license prior to or at the time of applying.
- Your hunting license is valid for 365 days from date of purchase, but applicants must have a valid license at the time of the drawing to successfully draw a license.
- Permit fee(s) are not required when you apply.
- There is a $15 nonrefundable application fee per species.
- Applicants must turn 10 years old by opening day of the hunt they apply for. Youth can apply for bonus points only if they are at least 10 by the application deadline.
- No one under the age of 14 may hunt big game in Arizona without having completed a hunter education course.
- Permits are awarded through a hybrid draw system, bonus point draw and a subsequent random draw (see draw system details below for more information).
- Groups of up to 4 can apply together for deer. Residents and nonresidents can apply together. Bonus points are averaged and rounded to the nearest whole number.
- If you are unsuccessful in the draw, then you will be awarded a bonus point for that species if you have purchased a hunting license.
- Arizona offers a PointGuard program, which allows applicants to return a drawn permit one time in their life in exchange for having their bonus points reinstated. The cost is $10 per species. You can purchase PointGuard when you apply.
- If you do not have PointGuard, you cannot return a drawn permit for a refund or have your points reinstated.
- Arizona offers a loyalty program for applicants who have applied for five consecutive years. You will obtain one loyalty bonus point. If you miss a year of applying, that point will be dropped. These points are species specific.
- Arizona offers a permanent hunter’s education point for every species if you take their state approved hunters education course. New for 2022 you can take that course online. You must be 18+ to complete the course and the cost is $300 for nonresidents and $150 for residents. It may take two weeks to a month to have the extra point show up in your account.
- Trail cameras have been banned for the purpose of locating, or aiding in the take of game
Arizona deer, bighorn sheep, and bison cost
|Item||Nonresident||Nonresident Youth||Resident||Resident Youth|
|Youth-only deer permit||N/A||$25||N/A||$25|
|Bighorn sheep permit||$1,800||$1,800||$300||$300|
|Any bison permit||$5,400||$5,400||$1,100||$1,100|
|Cow/yearling bison permit||$3,250||$3,250||$650||$650|
|Yearling bison permit||$1,750||$1,750||$350||$350|
Note: The cost of the permit will only be charged if you are successful in the draw. If you are successful, AZGFD will attempt to charge the card used when you applied. If the card is declined, they will not attempt to contact you. They will move past your application to the next applicant in the queue. Make sure the card you use is current and has the room to accommodate the permit(s) you applied for!
Drought in Arizona
Arizona had a very dry year in 2021 with almost the entire state experiencing extreme or exceptional drought conditions. Some of Arizona’s most notable units in the northern portion of the state, including the strip and the Kaibab, were definitely impacted and failed to turn out the trophy caliber bucks that those areas are known for. For the most part those areas are still in extreme drought conditions but the areas to the south have improved over 2021. The southern half of the state is mostly in severe and moderate drought conditions currently. The best mule deer units north of the Grand Canyon should have a better growth year in comparison, but it’s still not likely to be a banner year unless early summer and monsoon rains show up. The units south of the Grand Canyon, throughout central and the southern portion of the state should have much better antler growth when compared to 2021. Last year turned out to be a great year for big Coues deer and we expect that to continue going into 2022. Overall, it should be a good year for the central and southern units.
There is and will likely always be illegal immigrants crossing the US/Mexico border. If you are hunting north of Interstate 10 there is little to worry about in this regard illegal immigrants or issues related to trafficking.
If you choose to hunt south of Interstate 10, the odds of having any type of interaction with illegal immigrants is very low. Immigrants and traffickers are very aware of the hunting seasons, and the influx of hunters in the mountains at these times and do what they can to curb the number of potential interactions they have with people of any kind.
The bulk of the illegal immigrant movement happens at night. In the daytime, these groups of people are often in the bottom of a canyon or shaded up during the day sleeping and trying to remain undetected. They often travel all night and sleep and seek cover during the day. The most common time to have interaction is right at sun up or right at sundown. However, it is a good idea to stay out of the bottom of these canyons. Water sources are another potential point of contact. Water sources can offer great ambush deer hunting opportunities but the chance of an encounter with immigrants goes up. If you are traveling, stay on the ridgebacks and, if you cross a canyon, don’t travel down it. Always have a satellite messaging device and be aware of your surroundings. If you are truck camping and day hunting from a vehicle it may pay to leave some water and food outside the vehicle to deter break ins. Also, cover or remove any gear left inside your vehicle. Again, the odds of having an interaction are low, but be prepared and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
The Arizona Draw System
Arizona has a bonus point hybrid draw system that rewards applicants who have been applying for years and also offers a random chance for applicants with far fewer or no bonus points. 20% of the permits will be given to maximum point holders and the other 80% will be randomly allocated. They reserve 20% of the permits for each deer hunt code for maximum point applicants. For bighorn sheep and bison, 20% of the total number of permits statewide are reserved for maximum point applicants. In the random portion of the draw, weight is given to the number of points applicants have. For example, an applicant with six bonus points will have six chances — plus one for that year's application — to draw a random permit.
Bonus points are species specific. Applicants gain one bonus point for any species they apply for and are unsuccessful in the draw. You can also apply for points only, but Arizona allocates a portion of the permits randomly in the draw, so we highly recommend applicants apply for hunts. The only reason that an applicant should apply for points only is if they cannot afford the time off to hunt or the money for the permit. Arizona also offers two more options to gain extra bonus points. One is to apply for five consecutive years. In this case, you will be awarded a “loyalty bonus point” which is an extra point. This point will remain as long as you continue to apply. If you miss a year of applying, that loyalty point will be purged. The other is the “hunter’s education point”. Applicants can complete an AZGF approved hunter’s education course in person in Arizona or they can pay to take the online course. The online course fee for nonresidents is $300 and $150 for residents. Applicants must be 18 or older to take the class. In this case, a permanent bonus point will be awarded for every species for life.
If an applicant does not apply for five consecutive years for any given species, the bonus points for that species will be purged. If an applicant draws any of their hunt choices, all points will be purged, except for the loyalty and hunter education point (if the applicant had those).
Arizona offers a safeguard for applicants who draw a permit and may want to return it in order to have their points restored. This program is called PointGuard. The fee is $10 per species and can be purchased at the same time you apply. If you purchased PointGuard for a permit you drew and decided to return it, it must be done at least one day prior to opening day. You’ll also need to complete the surrender application form. If you use PointGuard, you will have your bonus points restored plus one for that year. You will forfeit the permit and application fees. Also, be aware that PointGuard can only be used one time per species, meaning you cannot draw a permit and return it year after year (retaining your points) until you are ready to hunt.
Resident/Nonresident Permit Quotas
Nonresidents are limited to no more than 10% of the total permits for each hunt code for antlered deer. Out of that 10%, up to 5% can be allocated to hunters in the bonus pass. [Bonus pass is the process that awards permits to maximum point holders.] After that, the remaining 5% can be allocated to nonresidents in the random pass (second pass).
Nonresidents are issued up to 10% of the total statewide bighorn sheep and bison permits and no more than 50% per hunt code. Up to one nonresident permit can be awarded if a hunt offers two or three permits. If a hunt has four or more permits, two can be awarded to nonresidents. Be aware that nonresidents can apply for hunts that only have one permit, but are not eligible to draw. For nonresidents, make sure you apply for hunts that have more than one permit available. Hunters may only harvest one desert bighorn sheep, one Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, and one bison in their lifetime in Arizona.
Applicants can apply for up to five hunt choices on their application. Only your first and second choice are considered before moving to the next application. What that means is an applicant's third, fourth and fifth choice will only be considered if there are leftover permits after every applicant has had their 1st/2nd choices on their application considered. Be aware that if you draw any of your choices, your points will be purged. For that reason, we advise applicants to only include first and second choices unless they are willing to burn points on the types of hunts that make it to the leftover list. Bonus points will not be impacted if you obtain a leftover deer permit in the first come, first served process.
Up to four applicants can apply as a group for deer. Nonresidents and residents can apply together on a group application. Bonus points for the group will be averaged and rounded to the nearest whole number (rounded up if equal to 0.5 or greater). If a group application is successful in the draw, all members of the group will receive a permit provided there are enough permits to cover the group. Nonresident permits come out of the nonresident quota. Arizona will not over-allocate the permit quota to accommodate a group application.
Youth and Mentoring Opportunities
Youth can apply for and hunt big game in Arizona at 10 years old. They must have completed a hunter’s education course and purchased an Arizona hunting license. That license is only $5 for youth (10 to 17). We highly recommend that you begin to apply and build points for your youth beginning at age 10.
Arizona has a unique program that will allow a parent, grandparent or legal guardian to transfer a permit they have drawn to their youth (10 to 17). The youth must have a valid hunting license and completed hunter’s education if they are younger than 14.
Arizona also offers Youth Only deer permits. The Youth Only permits are good opportunities to get your kids in the field. You can explore the hunt odds for these hunts within the stand alone draw odds in your Insider Research Platform.
Left-over First Come-First Served Permits
After the drawing is completed all remaining permits for deer are available on a first-come-first-served basis. The left-over permit will be listed online at www.azgfd.gov/hunting under the big game draw section. The process to obtain a left-over permit is different than it is in other western states. Applicants will need to print and fill out an application with their choices from the left-over list and send that in by mail on or after July 25, 2022.
Arizona's 2022 mule deer breakdown
Arizona is known for giant mule deer bucks, but unfortunately those types of trophies are mostly coming from select areas north of the Grand Canyon and these areas are very tough to draw. The Arizona strip units 13A and 13B had a tough year last year respectively. There were still some nice bucks taken, but it was definitely a down year. Drought has been hard on that herd. Going into 2022 the outlook is better, but it’s still likely to be an average year unless Arizona gets good spring and early summer rains. The Kaibab units, 12A and 12B are also well known and overall the quality there does seem to be getting better. The recent fires that burned there should begin to respond with new growth and the feed will help that herd and antler growth. The early hunts can be tough, in terms of producing a true trophy, but the late hunts are regularly very good. Once again, the number of points to draw in those areas is high.
A couple new hunts open this year are the December hunts in units 7/9 and 10. There is likely to be one random permit available for a nonresident in each of those, but those areas can produce a giant buck with the late season dates offered this year.
The southern units are average in terms of quality. There are more than enough bucks to offer an opportunity to fill a permit, but trophy quality just is not there. They can and do produce big bucks, but those are the exception rather than the norm and are often taken by local hunters who are willing to spend real time scouting and hunting. These areas are worth considering if you have a few points, but keep your expectations in check. It may be worth putting those points into a Coues deer hunt instead, and plan to hunt those other mule deer areas on an OTC archery hunt.
Some of the better options in the state for mule deer are available for youth only. If you have kids that are 10-17 years old the Youth Only hunts are worth considering. The cost of a hunting youth hunting license is only $5 and the permit cost is only $25 if you draw. Many of the Youth Only rifle hunts occur in early October which offers hunters the ability to hunt deer still in their early season summer range and patterns. Some of the better bucks in the central and southern units are harvested during the Youth Only hunts.
Overall, Arizona is a great deer state. You should apply, whether it’s a swing for the fences approach, or for a low to mid tier unit.
CURRENT MULE DEER HERD CONDITION
The statewide mule deer population is estimated to be between 85,000 to 100,000 deer. The drought has been hard on fawn survival and even adults, but we are hopeful that with better moisture and monsoons will offer good feed and populations will stabilize and improve. Trophy quality was below average in 2021, as it was across the west, but it should be better in 2022. In addition to better moisture, the lack of trail cameras scattered throughout the field should result in a few anomalies popping up across the state.
Top units to consider for 180” or better mule deer
(not in order of quality)
|Buck:doe ratio||Harvest Success||Resident pts to
|Nonresident pts to draw (2021)|
|13A-archery||190''+||29:100||44%||100% with 12||n/a|
|13B-archery||190''+||59:100||50%||100% with 14||50% with 24|
|12A/12B-archery||190''+||36:100||22%||100% with 6||100% with 9|
|3A/3C-archery||180''+||26:100||42%||100% with 8||100% with 8|
|12AE-muzzleloader||180''+||27:100||43%||50% with 9||n/a|
|12BW-muzzleloader||190''+||32:100||86%||60% with 9||n/a|
|13A-rifle||190''+||29:100||58%||100% with 18||25% with 24|
|13B-rifle||190''+||59:100||63%||80% with 20||13% with 24|
|12AW-early rifle||180”+||36:100||42%||100% with 10||100% with 15|
|12AW-late rifle||180”+||36:100||80%||100% with 17||100% with 24|
|12AE-early rifle||180”+||27:100||53%||100% with 10||100% with 17|
|12AE-late rifle||180”+||27:100||88%||100% with 15||100% with 23|
|12B-early rifle||190”+||32:100||50%||100% with 11||n/a|
|12B-late rifle||190”+||32:100||50%||100% with 18||n/a|
|12BW-early rifle||190”+||32:100||38%||100% with 8||100% with 14|
|12BW-late rifle||190”+||32:100||80%||100% with 15||100% with 23|
|3A/3C-early rifle||180”+||26:100||96%||100% with 11||100% with 15|
|3A/3C-late rifle||180”+||26:100||75%||100% with 15||n/a|
How to uncover hidden gem deer units
A hidden gem can come in a number of different ways in Arizona. The first and most glaring are the archery hunts because of the reasonable number of points required to hunt the Kaibab or the many units available to hunt OTC during the rut. Folks who do it year in and year out have taken some above-average bucks out of many different units. All this being said, and unfortunately so, a hidden gem may still take a decade or more to draw; however, given your odds on a late Kaibab or an Arizona strip tag, if you are looking to hunt with a rifle, keep your eyes peeled for the late December rifle tags in the units between Interstate 40 and the south rim of the Grand Canyon. These hunts are offered in different units each year, but with prime rut dates. Even a unit that may not have the strongest track record can produce a giant that time of year, especially with a rifle.
Use Filtering 2.0 so you can search for exactly the type of hunt you are looking for. Sort success rates, percentage of public land and trophy quality to find a quality hunt that most hunters may not be keying into.
TO GET STARTED WITH FILTERING 2.0
- Select state.
- Select species.
- Adjust the Trophy Slider to your desired size (e.g. 170”+).
- Click whether you are a resident or nonresident and indicate how many points you currently possess.
- Select your minimum percentage of odds for drawing the tag. This can be very good for weeding out units with unlimited (100%) tags.
- Select which season(s) you are wishing to hunt. Have other hunts already scheduled for the fall? You can also set your date parameters and Filtering 2.0 will automatically find what's in season during that time of the year.
- Choose what harvest percentages you would like to see in the units.
- Lastly, click on any of the remaining units to read in-depth profiles containing valuable information.
The points system
MANAGING POINTS AND EXPECTATIONS
Coues deer and mule deer use the same bonus points pool.
2022 maximum bonus points for deer: 25
ARIZONA DEER BONUS POINTS GOING INTO 2022
I HAVE 0 TO 3 MULE DEER BONUS POINTS. WHAT CAN I EXPECT?
If your goal is to hunt mule deer with a rifle or muzzleloader, there were three muzzleloader hunts (15A/15BE/15BW/15C/15D & 20B) available with 100% drawing odds at zero points and one rifle hunt (30B). At three points, you had muzzleloader hunts in 6B, 20B, 34A, and 35A/35B available. There were also 24 rifle hunts available at 100% odds of drawing. The stand out would be Units 29 and 32 with 35%+ harvest success rate and a 160”+ trophy potential.
In 2021 there were two muzzleloader hunts available in the northwest corner of the state near Kingman as well as Unit 30B available with no points. For a rifle deer hunt Unit 30B had a 100% chance of drawing. If you choose to apply for one of these hunts, include it as your second choice and swing for the fence on an elite permit as your first choice.
Note: for hunters who aspire to hunt the Arizona Strip, consider that one archery tag is typically allocated to a nonresident in 13A and two are allocated in 13B. The odds for those archery hunts are less than 1% from zero to 23 points. The rifle odds are worse. If you want to try to draw the Strip and are just starting, you are unlikely to ever draw those hunts.
WHAT CAN I DO WITH 4 TO 10 MULE DEER BONUS POINTS?
Within this range the best options are the archery hunts in 3A/3C with 8 points, 11M (Dec) with 7 points, and 12A/12B with 6 points. You also have enough to draw the muzzleloader hunt in 12A East and 12B with 10-11 points. The December muzzleloader hunt in 39/40A/40B/41/42 is also worth some research at 9-10 points. Rifle hunters have many options and you can review the odds to review what is available. Of the options, the early 12AE and 12BW are worth reviewing at 10 points. Unit 27 is worth considering at 6-7 points, as is unit 10 early at 4-5 points. 18B and 20A are also good options with 4-6 points. have If you choose to roll the dice in any of these, plan on some serious time scouting to get the most out of these opportunities
If you have waited around for 10 years to draw your Arizona permit, chances are that you are likely not looking for just a chance to go hunting. However, if you are ready to get out there, the few options available in units with a 180”+ trophy potential are the Unit 3A/3C archery hunt and the 12A/12B. Both of those will likely require 9-11 points. Muzzleloader hunts should consider 35/A/35B. Rifle hunters have fewer good options, but you may consider 22, 23, 24A, 27. All of those require 5-7 points.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT WITH 11 OR MORE MULE DEER BONUS POINTS?
Last year, residents were able to draw the archery hunts in the maximum point pool in Unit 13A with 12 points and Unit 13B with 14 points. If you are waiting it out for the late Kaibab or Strip rifle hunts you will need to wait a bit longer. Currently, the number of points that it took last year to draw these permits were:
- Unit 13A Rifle - 18 Points
- Unit 13B Rifle - 21 Points
- Unit 12A West Late Rifle - 17 points
- Unit 12A East Late Rifle - 15 points
- Unit 12A West Early rifle - 10 points
- Unit 12A East Early rifle - 10 points
- Unit 12B Early rifle - 11 points
- Unit 12B Late rifle - 18 points
- Unit 12B West Late rifle - 15 points
- Unit 3A/3C Early rifle - 11 points
- Unit 3A/3C Late rifle - 15 points
Unfortunately, if your goal is to wait it out for one of the elite tags in the state, it's going to be a while. Currently, your odds in the hardest hunts in the state are as follows.
- Unit 13A Archery -.06% with max points
- Unit 13B Archery - 50% with 24pts
- Unit 13A Rifle - 25% with 24 points
- Unit 13B Rifle - 13% with 24 points
- Unit 12A West Late Rifle - 100% with 24 points
- Unit 12A East Late Rifle - 100% with 23 points
- Unit 12A West Early rifle - 100% with 15 points
- Unit 12A East Early rifle - 100% with 17 points
- Unit 12B Early rifle - 2.2% with 22 points
- Unit 12B Late rifle - .40% with 23 points
- Unit 12B West Late rifle - 100% with 23 points
- Unit 3A/3C Early rifle - 100% with 15 points
- Unit 3A/3C Late rifle - .70% with 23 points
Arizona's 2022 Coues deer breakdown
Arizona has the largest Coues deer population in the United States and for those of you that have hunted them, you understand the “fever” to hunt these small gray ghosts. Coues deer are abundant throughout central and southern Arizona and trophy quality is generally really good in almost every unit. The fact that Coues deer are so small, blend into their environment extremely well, and inhabit a variety of habitat types-a trophy caliber buck can show up in any unit. In 2021 there are a good number of giant Coues bucks taken and we would expect that trend to continue into 2022.
Typically Arizona offers four rifle seasons, as well as early and late over-the-counter archery hunts in most Coues deer units. The further south you get, the more rifle hunts are offered. The northern untis may only have three rifle hunts. Most units offer a generous amount of permits, moreso for the early rifle hunts. Coues deer inhabit desert county and can be very hard to spot and keep track of. In addition, early season hunts can be hot and dry and with little movement, deer can be very hard to spot. Late season December hunts are the most coveted due to cooler temperatures and the bucks that are beginning to become more active since they rut from mid December to January. The early October season can be very good if you are willing to spend time scouting and can deal with the weather. The later October and November hunts can be tough, due to the fact that deer have been pressured and are not yet starting to rut. If you like lots of glassing, lots of hiking and long-range shooting, these amazing deer will give you everything you are looking for and more.
With there being very few good mule deer hunt options for applicants with 4-14 points, we would encourage you to consider a good Coues deer hunt if you fall within this category. There are better mule deer options in states like Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and perhaps even Nevada. Coues deer are much smaller and their antlers may not get some hunters excited, but the challenge and opportunity for a “great” buck are much better.
CURRENT COUES DEER HERD CONDITION
The further south you go, the stronger the populations are. The statewide population is likely between 60,0000 and 85,000 although populations are difficult to measure. Coues deer populations are up about 10 percent over the last decade.
Top units to consider for 100” or better Coues deer
(not in order of quality)
|Buck:doe ratio||Harvest success||Public land %|
How to uncover hidden gem units
Using Filtering 2.0 and Draw Odds, you will be able to study additional information like trophy potential and success rates to narrow down where you would like to hunt. If you want to hunt Coues deer every year, you can. In the table below, we offer hunts that were drawn with no points and have harvest success rates greater than 30%. In addition, there are many hunts that can be drawn that have slightly lower harvest success rates.
Coues deer rifle hunts drawn with 0 points with 40%+ harvest success
|Buck:doe ratio||Harvest success|
|24B||100”+||44:100||Nov 4-10 (41%)|
|30A||100”+||34:100||Oct 21-27 (52%)
Nov 4-10 (63%)
Nov 25-Dec 4 (55%)
|30B||100”+||33:100||Nov 4-10 (48%)|
|34B||100”+||53:100||Nov 4-10 (42%)|
|35A||100”+||33:100||Oct 21-27 (40%)|
|36A||100”+||17:100||Nov 4-10 (45%)
Nov 25-Dec 4 (46%)
The points system
MANAGING POINTS AND EXPECTATIONS
Coues deer and mule deer use the same bonus points pool.
2022 maximum bonus points for deer: 25
ARIZONA DEER BONUS POINTS GOING INTO 2022
Arizona's 2022 bighorn sheep breakdown
Arizona offers hunts for both desert bighorn sheep and Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. Your points are simply for bighorn sheep so the decision to hunt Rockies or desert sheep is your’s when you apply. You can apply for both species using one of your two selections for desert bighorn sheep while using the other for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. Because there are so many desert bighorn sheep options to choose from and more permits available we recommend applying only for desert bighorn sheep and only applying for Rockies if you have already harvested a Desert.
The desert bighorn sheep population is doing really well in almost every unit of the state. Units 1/27, 23/24A, 24B North and 46B East will all have enough permits this year to offer one to a nonresident applicant. Several of the southern units will also see permit increases and some season splits. Make sure you check out the regulations before you apply. The overall number of permits offered in 2022 will increase by 18 to a total of 140.
Trophy quality is outstanding across the state. There are units that are historically better, but every unit can offer a ram in 160”+ range. As you review the draw odds, they are abysmal but the better odds options are tied to a lower trophy potential, poor access and more rugged terrain. In considering where to apply, it’s worth considering that 20% of the permits are allocated to high point holders in the bonus point draw. The bulk of the bonus point permits are drawn by residents out of the top tier trophy units. Because of this detail in the process, 90%+ of the permits allocated to nonresidents are going to be drawn in the random pass of the draw. Thus, it pays to look at the hunts that have lower trophy potential, are more remote and rugged and have a decent number of permits if possible. Applying for a top-shelf unit will mean that you will likely be running a risk of there not being a tag available by the time the random pass happens. If you have less than max points, look for those types of hunts.
Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep quality is also very good in Arizona and every unit can offer 170”+ potential. Nonresidents in 2022 can now apply for units 1/27 and 23/24A.
The table below shows the number of desert bighorn sheep permits available for 2022 and it also indicates if there are nonresident permits available. In the fourth column, we indicate whether or not each hunt is the “Best, Good or Worst” option for applicants with fewer than maximum points. Those suggestions are based on odds of drawing a permit in the random pool. The worst options are the best trophy hunts and will most likely be drawn by maximum point holders. Good hunts have good trophy potential and a permit that may slip through to a random applicant. The best options are the better bets for low point applicants. Still, the odds are less than 1%.
All Desert bighorn sheep permit numbers for 2022
|Best, Good, or Worst option for
a nonresident with less than maximum points
|12B East-early||3||Yes (1)||Best|
|12B East-late||4||Yes (2)||Best|
|13B North||3||Yes (1)||Best|
|13B South||1||No||Resident only|
|15A/15B East||1||No||Resident only|
|15B West||1||No||Resident only|
|16A South/18B||2||Yes (1)||Best|
|24B North||2||Yes (1)||Worst|
|24B South||2||Yes (1)||Worst|
|39 East||2||Yes (1)||Good|
|39 West||2||Yes (1)||Good|
|40B Gila Mtns||4||Yes (2)||Good|
|40B Mohawk and Copper Mtns||2||Yes (1)||Best|
|40B Tinajas Mtns||2||Yes (1)||Best|
|41 East||2||Yes (1)||Good|
|41 West||2||Yes (1)||Good|
|44A East||2||Yes (1)||Good|
|44A West||1||No||Resident only|
|44B North||2||Yes (1)||Good|
|44B South||4||Yes (2)||Good|
|46A East||1||No||Resident only|
|46A West||1||No||Resident only|
|46B East-early||2||Yes (1)||Good|
|46B East-late||2||Yes (1)||Good|
|46B West-early||4||Yes (2)||Good|
|46B West-late||4||Yes (2)||Best|
Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep permit numbers for 2022
|Best, Good, or Worst option for
a nonresident with less than maximum points
THE GOHUNT HIT LIST UNITS FOR ARIZONA DESERT BIGHORN SHEEP
As previously noted, the best odds of drawing a permit are in areas where the trophy potential is not quite as good. The top-tier units in the state will produce 170” to 180” class rams most years. Those units are also the ones that will require maximum points or all the luck you can muster.
Top units to consider for 170” or better desert bighorn sheep
Managing bighorn sheep points and expectations
THE BIGHORN SHEEP POINT SYSTEM
Arizona desert bighorn sheep and Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep use the same bonus points pool.
2022 maximum bonus points for Arizona bighorn sheep: 33
ARIZONA BIGHORN SHEEP BONUS POINTS GOING INTO 2022
Arizona's 2022 bison breakdown
Arizona offers two different application periods for bison each year. The current application period is for hunters who would like a chance to harvest a cow bison or yearly bison. For many hunters, this application period is simple. They simply apply for a point only application, build their point because they can and wait for the fall application period to apply for the hunts that would allow them to harvest a bull next spring and summer.
If you are interested in harvesting a cow, the odds on these hunts are still rough, but exponentially better than the odds of drawing a hunt that would allow you to hunt a bull next year.
Currently, an applicant could have as many as 54 bonus points because of the way this system works. However, there are only 14 residents with more than 40 points and four nonresidents.
Arizona fall bison permits spring application period 2022
|Unit||Hunt dates||Permit type||Total permits||Harvest success (2021)|
|5A/5B-rifle||Nov. 11-15||cow bison||2||100%|
|5A/5B-rifle||Nov. 18-22||cow bison||2||100%|
|5A/5B-rifle||Dec. 2-6||cow bison||2||100%|
|5A/5B-rifle||Dec. 9-13||cow bison||2||100%|
|5A/5B-rifle||Dec. 16-20||yearling bison||2||100%|
|12A East-rifle||Nov. 4-8||cow bison||2||100%|
|12A East-rifle||Nov. 11-15||cow bison||2||100%|
|12A/12B/13A-rifle||Nov. 3-Dec. 31||cow bison||7||57%|
|12A/12B/13A-muzzleloader||Sept. 15-Oct 5||cow bison||10||50%|
|12/12B/13A-archery||Aug. 25-Sept 7||cow bison||7||0%|
ARIZONA BISON BONUS POINTS GOING INTO 2022
Managing points and expectations
There is currently not a mature bull bison hunt available in this application period. If you are looking for a chance to hunt a trophy bull, you will need to apply for a point in this application period and wait until the fall application period to submit your application for an actual hunt.
If your goal is to simply draw a bison hunt and a cow or a yearling bull sounds like exactly what you are looking for, then this is the draw period for you. The odds are steep even for the cows, but you don’t want to miss any chance to draw whether it's this deadline or the fall deadline.